11 Preservation Wins and Losses in 2016
As another year comes to a close, we at the National Trust once again take stock of some of the most significant preservation wins and losses over the past 12 months.
2016 saw impressive gains in protecting important national landmarks and recognizing LGBTQ history. Across the country, and in the midst of a divisive year, communities came together to save places that tell our shared American story and enhance our lives.
At the same time, some places of incredible value and beauty were lost forever. As we take heart in this year's victories, we also pledge that these losses will galvanize us to work harder in the year to come to save more places that matter.
Seven Preservation Wins
Princeton Battlefield: Princeton, New Jersey
After a decade of uncertainly, the future of Princeton Battlefield, a National Treasure of the National Trust, has been secured. The 21-acre Revolutionary War site, also known as Maxwell’s Field, faced an irreversible threat: the construction of housing for faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Thanks to negotiations between the Civil War Trust and the Institute for Advanced Study, the two groups have reached an agreement that will preserve almost 15 acres of the battlefield land, while allowing the Institute to construct new faculty housing on a small 7-acre tract.
Miami Marine Stadium: Miami, Florida
When it was completed in 1963, the 6,566-seat Miami Marine Stadium boasted the longest span of cantilevered concrete on earth and was heralded as a masterwork of civic architecture and modern construction.
During its heyday, powerboat races, Easter sunrise services, and concerts under the stars drew thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. The experience was authentic Miami; there was nothing else like it, anywhere.
In November of this year, the Miami City Commission approved $45 million in special obligation bonds that will be dedicated to the restoration of the structure, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Andrew struck the city in 1992.
The Factory: West Hollywood, California
The Factory was built in 1929 to accommodate the booming success of the Mitchell Camera Corporation, which revolutionized filmmaking at the time. In 1974, the structure became Studio One, a pioneering gay disco that served the LGBTQ community in myriad ways, such as hosting one of the nation’s first fundraisers to combat the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s.
Once threatened by demolition due to a large-scale hotel development, this iconic structure, which was named to the National Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2015, has been listed on the California Register of Historic Places, and will now be restored and incorporated into the project. Further, the State Historical Resources Commission has recommended that the property be considered for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Union Station: Washington, D.C.
A Beaux Arts icon designed by renowned architect Daniel Burnham, Union Station is both a transit hub for the 100,000 people who use it daily and one of Washington, D.C.’s most popular tourist destinations.
A multi-year rehabilitation effort has recreated the station’s breathtaking interior. For the first time since the 1970s, the lobby is unobstructed, allowing the public to flow freely through what was the largest room ever built when it opened in 1907. The 96-foot coffered ceiling has also been fully restored, while 120,000 sheets of new 23-karat-gold leafing were applied to the ceiling bay. The work was completed thanks in part to the National Trust and a grant from American Express.
Stonewall Inn: New York, New York
On June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s West Village fought back against what had become regular harassment and city-sanctioned arrests by police against LGBTQ people. In what was to become a catalyzing moment for the LGBTQ civil rights movement, people stood up against laws that prevented them from simply being themselves.
This summer, the National Trust helped rally thousands of advocates around the country in recognition of Stonewall's important past, and on June 24, President Barack Obama officially named the site a national monument.
Waldorf Astoria Interior: New York, New York
Once described by President Herbert Hoover as a place that marked America's growth in power, comfort, and artistry, and as an exhibition of courage and confidence to the nation, New York City’s Waldorf Astoria has stood relatively unchanged since 1931.
And though the exterior of the hotel has been protected by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, its iconic interior was threatened in 2014 with redevelopment by new owners Anbang Insurance Group.
On November 1, 2016, the Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed to schedule a hearing to consider the landmark status of the hotel’s interior, which, if approved, would protect the cherished space.
Metropolitan Building: Detroit, Michigan
Built in 1925, Detroit’s Gothic Revival Metropolitan Building was originally home to jewelry manufacturers, as well as retail and office space.
Since its closure in 1978, the building received little-to-no investment. However, in May 2016, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced a plan redevelop a portion of the building for its Element Hotels brand. Featuring 100,000 square feet and 110 guest rooms, Element Detroit is expected to open in July 2018.
Four Preservation Losses
Nye’s Polonaise Room: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The ultimate dive bar, Nye’s Polonaise Room in Minneapolis officially closed its doors on April 3, 2016. The working-man’s establishment was an expression of the eclectic neighborhood in which it was built, and was even named the "Best Bar in America" by Esquire magazine.
The two buildings that housed the Polonaise Room were recently purchased by developer Schafer Richardson and will be incorporated into a mixed-use development. The plans include retail space on the street level with more than 70 apartments located directly above.
Electric Steel Elevator Complex: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Electric Steel Elevator complex in Minneapolis represents the expansion of the city's grain economy in the early 20th century and is rare for its construction in steel rather than concrete, as was more customary at the time.
The property was recently sold to the University of Minnesota, which plans to demolish the complex and build a sports facility in its place. This decision comes after significant opposition from a local neighborhood organization, among other groups.
Club Moderne: Anaconda, Montana
Since it opened in 1937, Club Moderne had been a fixture in the small town of Anaconda, Montana. Throughout the decades, its Art Deco Carrera glass panels, woodwork, hardware, leather furniture, Formica tables, and original neon sign remained in tact. However, tragedy struck in October of 2016 when a fire ripped through the National Register-listed watering hole, destroying it completely.
Chautauqua Amphitheater: Chautauqua, New York
Built in 1893, the Chautauqua Amphitheater, 70 miles southwest of Buffalo, New York, was internationally recognized as a forum for American culture and history. The 4,000-seat, open-air structure hosted a wide range of leaders, activists, and artists, including Susan B. Anthony, Booker T. Washington, Thurgood Marshall, Bobby Kennedy, and Sandra Day O’Connor, to name just a few.
Despite this rich history, the Chautauqua Institution announced in fall 2014 its intent to demolish the historic “Amp” to make way for a replica with updated amenities. Though the National Trust led a coalition to fight the project, the structure was completely demolished by September of 2016.